Guest Viewpoint for Sunday — July 27, 2003

Kaua‘i is trying to decide it’s position on the recent proposal to expand the PMRF runway to accommodate C-17 Globe Master training operations and I’m surprised at the lack of coverage, or interest, that exists, looking from my only vantage point, “The Garden Island”. I think it’s more serious than “it’s good business” or “I hate PMRF anyway”.

I’m not a resident, but I was one of the first to occupy the PMRF location in 1956. I lived there two years and grew to love the Island and its people. In 1993, after ‘Iniki, I’ve tried to return each year. Like Willie Nelson sings, “You are always on my mind.”

The recent letter by LeeAnn Jackson, “Keep Kaua‘i Pristine,” should be taken seriously. The expansion of PMRF will strike a devastating blow to the pristine nature of the Island, which currently is a unique characteristic and once lost, is gone forever. If I may, I’d like to restate the proposal as it looks to me.

The article in the news paper said that the Environmental Impact Study is available for review (one copy in the Wiamea Public Library) and the plans are so quiet that they won’t bother anybody. Why only one copy? If it were any more restricted, the copy would have to be in a temporary booth at the now gone town of Mana site. One of the absolutes that you can count on is that even though the truth is spoken, it’s not necessarily the whole truth. Code words and phrases are used that raise my suspicion.

“Air Force Officials prefer PMRF to Kane‘ohe because the O‘ahu site would have planes flying over homes.” If the planes are so quiet and non-disturbing, what’s the problem? And if not, what happens to the pristine channel between Ni‘ihau and Kaua‘i, and the sanctity of Koke‘e and the Na Pali Coast? For O‘ahu, the area around Kane‘ohe, out of necessity, has lost most of its original pristine nature

“EA estimates 60 take offs and landings per month.” That means that 120 times per month these “giants” will be in the air n almost 1,500 times a year, that is if they fly evenly each day. I would bet the number is the lowest estimate they could make without being liable for misleading statements. What about night operations? Surely night battle field training is very important.

Kaua‘i is desperately seeking economic definition and stability. There are ways to accomplish that goal without destroying some of the unique gifts Kaua‘i has to offer.

And, it is not in selling something precious for small, short term gains. One frightening indicator is the recent discussions about real estate prices and taxation. The high price of real estate is only valuable to the owner if they sell and leave the Island. With them will go the soul of Kaua‘i. Residential property taxes should not be the only source of revenue for county business. It becomes a form of “financial cannibalism” that leads to failure.

Kaua‘i is challenged, but I know there are many on the Island with the skills, intellectual resources, and love of the Island who can come together for its good. Add to that the number of young people in the past who were educated on Kaua‘i but moved somewhere else. A vast resource only a “keyboard” away. The solution won’t come from the County Government but from some “other” force. It’s up to the people of Kaua‘i whether they are that force, or an outside commercial force. Remember, a fundamental principle in the Universe. Nothing stays the same.

Joe Polacky, Atlanta


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